Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ashburn Data Centers

By David Gross

In Northern Virginia, many of our telecom carriers went bankrupt in the early-mid 2000s.   The region spent much of the last decade shifting its emphasis from being a leading hub for ISPs and CLECs, back to its more traditional role in government contracting.   However, data centers held on due to the unusually large amount of fiber optic capacity and interconnection points that already existed in the region, and centered in on one area - Ashburn - for their large expansions.

Ashburn sits in the middle of rapidly growing Loudoun County, a few miles to the north of Dulles Airport.   Anyone who has visited the Equinix (EQIX), Digital Realty (DLR), or DuPont Fabros (DFT) facilities there has seen the planes, including many European flag carriers, flying right over the data center clusters on Beaumeade Circle/Filigree Court and Devin Shafron Drive.

The first major facility to go up in Ashburn was Equinix's DC1 in 1999.   When it was built, many thought it was too far out, and that it might have been better off closer to the large MAE East NAP in Tyson's Corner, 15 miles east, which along with MAE West in Silicon Valley passed more Internet traffic than just about any location in the world.    And with interconnection the centerpiece of the co-location business, proximity to both fiber and existing peering locations were highly important.  But land costs are much lower in Ashburn, as are existing building densities, two factors which have made it conducive to large, 100,000+ square foot facilities, while the smaller data centers have tended to stay to the east in Fairfax County and downtown DC. 

Today, there is just over 2 million square feet of public data center space in the Ashburn area, including the Savvis-operated/DLR-owned facilities a couple miles away on Ridgetop Circle and Nokes Boulevard, which have a Sterling address.   Those facilities are adjacent to the Dulles Town Center mall, which itself was built in 1999, and are surrounded by shopping centers, and new apartment and townhouse developments.   Meanwhile,  the Ashburn clusters tend to be slightly more rural, sitting west of Route 28, which runs right into the Dulles Airport entrance, and used to mark the end of civilization for many DC area residents.

The primary hub for data centers in Ashburn is a collection of interconnected roads - Beaumeade Circle, Hastings Drive, Chillum Place, and Filigree Court, which are less than a mile down Loudoun County Parkway from the Washington Redskins training facility.    The large former WorldCom/now Verizon Business office complex is another mile down Loudoun County Parkway.    And if you continue another half mile down that road, you come to the DLR cluster at Devin Shafron Drive.

DLR's new data center at 43915 Devin Shafron Drive

On Devin Shafron, there is a small patch of dirt and grass with a Digital Realty "for lease" sign in front, while nearby on Red Rum Drive, office REIT First Potomac Realty (FPO) recently bought the Corporate Campus at Ashburn Center, 123,000 feet of which are leased to managed hosting provider Latisys, which held a grand opening there last Thursday.  Among the established properties, Equinix's DC2 has long been the place to be, with a long list of financial, media, and telecom clients including MasterCard, The Motley Fool, Level 3, Internap, Electronic Arts, BT North America, and Accenture.   Around the corner from there on Hastings Drive, DC-based DFT has attracted its own set of brand name clients with Rackspace, Facebook, Yahoo, and

This tenant mix in Ashburn reflects that this is the leading east coast data center hub, bringing together some of the largest telecom providers and most highly visited websites in the world.   In the 2010s, Ashburn is carrying on Northern Virginia's 1990s legacy as the hub of ISPs and internet connectivity.

Ashburn Data Centers

Rentable Sq Ft Tenants
DFT ACC2 44490 Chillum Place 53,000 Yahoo

ACC3 Hastings Drive 80,000

ACC4 44480 Hastings Drive 172,000 Rackspace, Yahoo,, Facebook

ACC5 Phase 1 86,000 Facebook

ACC5 Phase 2 86,000


DLR 21561/21571 Beaumeade Circle 164,453 AT&T

43881 Devin Shafron Drive 180,000 FAA

43791 Devin Shafron Drive 132,086 Morgan Stanley

43831 Devin Shafron Drive 180,000

43915 Devin Shafron Drive 132,000
21110 Ridgetop Circle, Sterling 135,513 Savvis
45901/45845 Nokes Boulevard, Sterling 167,160 Savvis

44470 Chillum Place 95,440 Equinix (DC3)


EQIX 44470 Chillum Place Leased from DLR DC3

21715 Filigree Court 147,600 DC2

21701 Filigree Court 92,000 DC5

21711 Filigree Court 43,000 DC1

21721 Filigree Ct. 148,000 DC6

21691 Filigree Court 100,000 DC4

First Potomac Realty

21635 Red Rum Drive 123,000 Latisys

Total 2,317,252

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